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Auckland day trip: Maraetai Beach, Pohutukawa Coast, etc

Mood at Maraetai Beach, East coast, New Zealand

Sunshine, beaches with space to spare, native scenery hugging the coastal road. A classic day at the beach complete with ice creams and wharf to jump off.  Maraetai is all about the beach. Maraetai Beach is a very strong contender for the best beach, in the Auckland area. It is possible to swim at all tides, although high tide is best. There’s a wharf that makes for a popular diving platform and there’s plenty of parking along the foreshore. Take your pick from several cafes or restaurants  while watching all the beach activity.

Highlights:

  • Spectacular scenery, iconic pohutukawa trees shading the beach, Auckland’s largest native forest reserves and a 30m waterfall.
  • Omana Regional Park with its classic campgrounds, beaches, native bush reserve and cliff top views of the Firth of Thames waterways.
  • Maraetai on the spectacular Pohutukawa Coast.
  • Travel through rural rolling countryside.
  • Historic Clevedon, with its boutique wineries and chance to shop in local artisan stores.

Start your journey from Auckland heading in the direction of Whitfored. Travel along Whitford-Maraetai Road where you will observe signs for Pacific Coast Highway. Continue east enjoying the stands of beautiful coastal bush and the spectacular views of the Firth of Thames. Pass road signs for the seaside town of Beachlands. Your road will be signposted Pacific Coast Highway.

Omana Regional Park is your first stop with its beach walks, campgrounds and picnic areas. From Omana Regional Park return to the main road and turn left. In fifteen minutes you will reach your destination Maraetai beach. Swinging by Umupuia beach you will return to Auckland on the inland route.

Omana Regional Park

Omana Regional Park has got a lot, panoramic views of Firth of Thames, sweeping grassed spaces for families, beaches with rock pools and safe swimming areas, cool shaded bush walks and allows dogs on a lease to walk in prescribed areas. The perimeter walk and farm walk are easy walking tracks. It is very tempting to simply stay put and spend your day at Omana.

Maraetai beach

And a wharf where jumping off is a summer rite of passage. The marina had budding yachties practicing all their moves on the water making for all those white sails against an azure sea and sky.

Cafes and toilets encourage you to throw down the beach towel and linger with the shallow Firth of Thames water making the beach a safe place for families.

On your return to Auckland the drive along the winding cliff top road around the small picturesque bays, follow the sharp right hand turn inland and a short distance away is the second regional park in the area. The drive to Umupuia (Duders) Regional Park is perhaps one of the most exquisite road trips in New Zealand. Imagine a short fifteen / twenty minute journey packed with sharp curves hugging the Firth of Thames seascape, fringed with enormous Pohutukawa trees gnarled and moulded by nature, wind and age as quintessential Kiwiana postcard trees, glimpses of people fishing from rocks and people supine on small coves, there is light and shade reflecting the shape and scent of a New Zealand summer.

And all of this is encapsulated in a short regional drive from Maraetai beach to Umupuia Regional Park. The jewel of your day is the return to Auckland.

Umupuia (Duders) Regional Park

This is signposted and there is parking available. It is a reasonable walk into the park and to the coves and beaches. Consider the two-hour Farm Loop through rolling pastures passing grazing sheep surrounded by incredible sea views stretching across to Waiheke and Ponui islands. This walk is 2 hours, 4.3km.

Or you can consider “Duder Sustainable Trail 1.5 hour, 4km Learn how Duder Regional Park is walking the talk on sustainability. This 1.5 hour walk is marked by yellow markers and is a fun and practical way to learn about sustainable farming,” as described by the park brochure. A return visit is necessary as you have just enough time to scoot around the park briefly before promising to return.

I had one of those magical moments where I was in the right place, at the right time. Two majestic wakas (sea going vessels) were drawn up on the beach awaiting Waitangi Day (National Day) celebrations.

I thought about sea voyaging wakas with their flax woven sails, navigating by the stars, wind direction and sea currents. You are memorised by the apparent frailty of the waka and the massive journeys they undertook. Courage and seamanship rolled into those flax sails. Umupuia is home to Ngai Tai ki Tamaki’s marae and is an important cultural centre for the Ngai Tai tribe who have occupied the area since the earliest days of Maori settlement in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

I witnessed a New Zealand family of Tongan descent join me waka watching. Their hands reverently stroked the sides of the vessel while quietly murmuring to their young children.

I felt the kinship of sailing across the Pacific narrative was being told. An evident pride in the accomplishment of polynesian seafaring was being told. May those stories of polynesian navigation continue to be told.

Clevedon

Clevedon country town on Pohutukawa Coast Trail.

Woodzone New Zealand made woodware and furniture.

Clevedon Village Farmers Market (Sunday) a popular market.

Visit the historic McNicol Homestead Museum. Visit the display rooms for a glimpse into New Zealand in the 1800s and enjoy a picnic in the garden.

Hunau Ranges Regional Park and Hunau Falls.

Clevedon Coast Oysters are open Monday-Friday, Saturday & Sunday: 9.00am – 4.00pm.  OYSTER GALLEY open Saturday & Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm. Galley open on Fridays 11.00am-3.00pm

Relish Delicatessen offers a relaxed village atmosphere. You can choose from a menu of breakfast and lunch meals which can be enjoyed on a couple of small tables both inside and out.

Travel Pack Information
  • Omana Regional Park brochure information Park details page has the following: Feature walks. Lookout Walk 10 minutes, 600m Starting at the cattle grid near the main toilets, the Lookout Walk is a short climb to discover extensive views across the Tāmaki Strait with stunning views through to many of the gulf islands.
  • Perimeter Walk 1 hour, 2.5km This walk features native forest, tidal estuaries with life-giving mangroves (manawa), open paddocks, coastal views, shady pōhutukawa and a Māori pā site. This easy, one-hour walk around the park has it all. Take the short detour to the lookout and you will be rewarded with expansive views to Waiheke Island and the inner Hauraki Gulf.
  • Ōmana Farm Walk 15 minutes, 600m The Ōmana Farm Walk provides an interesting diversion from the Perimeter Walk in the south-west of the park. It is a gentle stroll across a picture-postcard rural setting, rejoining the Perimeter Walk at either end.
  • The Beachlands-Maraetai Walkway 1 hour 30 minutes, 6km This is a coastal walkway and cycle path that can be started at either end of the walkway, at Maraetai Park (o Maraetai Drive) or from the end of Second View Avenue Beachlands. You can access the walkway from Ōmana Esplanade Reserve, Ōmana Regional Park or Te Puru Park.
  • Sea kayaking You can launch your kayak from the beach or boat ramp at Ōmana Esplanade. Kayaking is best at high tide. Ōmana is part of Te Ara Moana – ‘the sea-going pathway’. This is a self-guided five-day sea kayak tour along approximately 51km of Auckland’s picturesque south eastern coastline, connecting five of Auckland’s charming Regional Parks.
  • Ranger recommendations: Tips on how to make the most of your visit to Ōmana Regional Park. If you have two hours… Be sure to take in the view from the lookout. Depending on the tide, go swimming at the beach (one hour either side of high tide) or explore the fascinating rock pools below the clis. If you have half a day
  • Beachlands to Maraetai Path. The Beachlands-Maraetai Walkway 1 hour 30 minutes, 6km. This is a coastal walkway and cycle path that can be started at either end of the walkway, at Maraetai Park (o Maraetai Drive) or from the end of Second View Avenue Beachlands. You can access the walkway from Ōmana Esplanade Reserve, Ōmana Regional Park or Te Puru Park. The path is mostly concrete, with some small unsealed sections to be aware of. Look out for the gravel/shell area near the Maraetai end. Take extra care of vehicles at the back end of the Maraetai Boat Club where the path ends then starts again. The route is well marked and has some slight hills. It becomes slightly narrower along the coastline near the Maraetai end. After periods of wet weather, small sections may become a bit muddy. Dogs are permitted either on-lead or off-lead (but under control) most of the walkway – please refer to posted signage. Dogs are prohibited from Ōmana Regional Park, except for around the perimeter walk. You can start at either end, from Maraetai Park (off Maraetai Drive), or from the end of Second View Avenue in Beachlands. If you don’t want to do the whole ride, start at one of the access points from Ōmana Esplanade Reserve, Ōmana Regional Park or Te Puru Park. Parking is available in these locations. On weekdays, consider combining your day out with a ferry ride from Auckland to Pine Harbour (note this route does not operate on weekends).
  • Umupuia (Duder) Regional Park Park details page for walks and sustainable practices.

Travel pack. Omana regional park map PDF

Travel pack. Hunua Ranges map PDF

Travel pack. Duder regional park map PDF

The journey is worth it.

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